February 2022

Swindon stories story telling month

Swindon Stories has launched Storytelling Month. It combines National Storytelling Week (30 Jan – 6 Feb) with Mother Tongue Day (21st Feb), for a range of activities, events and FREE resources for families.

This celebration festival highlights the diversity of stories at the heart of Swindon communities. It will also raise awareness of the importance of multilingualism.

Swindon stories storytelling month

Why are we doing it?

We want to spread a love of literacy in all its forms, including story-telling. Storytelling and reading is an important way for people to make sense of the world around them. People think in stories!

BUT one in eleven children don’t own a book of their own and one in six adults struggle with their literacy. Also almost 3 in 5 multilingual children say that they don’t enjoy reading in their free time.

This festival will celebrate both the value and skill of speaking many languages and the ways that these voices and stories shape our community.

Multi-cultural Swindon

Swindon is has a cultural vibrance apropos its residents and their languages. You can hear over 100 languages spoken in Swindon.

Among the town’s most spoken non-English languages and dialects are Konkani, Nepalese, Portugese and Polish. Swindon also has a rich local history, alongside local folktales and fables. We’re hoping that many of those will resurface and encourage the next generation to connect.

We of course know the story of the Moonrakers. But there are some wonderful stories about:

  • The ghost of Squire Crowdy of Highwoth
  • Fairies of Hackpen Hill
  • The black shuck of Collingbourne-Kington and …
  • … the witches of Wiltshire.

Why is storytelling so important?

Stories teach us about the world around us, they allow us to step into someone else’s shoes and feel empathy. Psychologists David Comer Kidd and Emanuele Castano, at the New School for Social Research in New York, have proved that reading literary fiction enhances the ability to detect and understand other people’s emotions.

That’s a crucial skill in navigating complex social relationships. We hope the project will introduce children to a diverse range of stories, about characters from all walks of life. The project will also encourage children and parents to become protagonists of their own stories, sharing memories and cultural traditions with others.

How you can get involved

We’re inviting you to tell a story, for the Storytelling Month. We’ll upload it to Swindon Stories and the National Literacy Trust Facebook pages.

You could:

  • Share a local or international folktale, fable or legend. For example, this could be the local story of the moonrakers, or a folktale from the culture of your first language. Simply send us a clip, your name, a translation and sentence to summarise it!
  • Keep your eyes peeled for our three scrapbook resources. W’eve tailored these to early years, children 5-7, and 7-11.
  • Create a poster, activity or video about your local dialect or language. What are your favourite regional words on the topic of food, family, greetings and hobbies, or what do you like about it?
  • Share a memory of growing up, visiting family in a different country or your favourite thing about where you live.
  • Create a storytelling video about your first language, childhood stories or legends passed down through your family.
  • Share your favourite bit of history about Swindon

Or do you have an idea of your own? let us know!

Events and resources

There will be a handful of fantastic virtual and in-person events and resources for children and families. That’s including our dual language booklist, our folktales & fables booklists and family scrapbook from our Swindon Stories Facebook Page.

Swindon children and adults will be sharing their stories via both the Facebook page and Wiltshire radio. And from February 21 – 25: Young Arts Leaders, in partnership with Prime Theatre, are to run events on the theme of language, identity and telling your own story.

We’ll confirm practitioners and timings soon. For more information, contact anish.harrison@literacytrust.org.uk

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